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Title:A Multi-Dimensional Model of Modern British English Phonology
Authors:Bin Li
Comment:This MA thesis proposed a model in the framework of OT in solving pronunciation, syllabification and word stress in Modern British English.
Abstract:Modern British English words could be analyzed and studied, diachronically or synchronically, from different branches or schools of linguistics or from different disciplines. Phonologically, the analysis and study of Modern British English words are mainly on their pronunciations, syllabifications and word stresses, which were studied broadly and deeply by the predecessors who had fruitful research achievements and rich research experiences. And confined by social and historical reasons, their researches still need to be further analyzed to make a supplement or an improvement. Nowadays, the phonological study gradually has been tending to be interdisciplinary and synthesis. Then, Optimality Theory (OT for short), which was born in 1990s, was the combination of phonology and cognitive science. And it becomes populous in linguistic field after its birth. OT, which is the latest development of generative grammar, and is the improvement and development of classical generative phonology, defines language as a system of conflicting forces with constraint and constraint hierarchy (H) as its core. It is not only used in phonology, but also in syntax, semantics, historical linguistics, first language acquisition, child language acquisition, foreign language learning, information processing of human brain imitated by computer and social linguistics. OT has been being vital in explaining the linguistic phenomenon, being a universal linguistic theory. But, the theory had some problems in analyzing and studying linguistic phenomenon. As a result, Comparative Markedness Theory, Correspondence Theory, Stochastic Optimality Theory, and OT with Candidate Chains were born to help to improve the Optimality Theory. And, it still has thorny problems in analyzing pronunciations, word stresses or even syllabifications of Modern British English (Modern BrE for short) words. And, those problems are not satisfactorily solved in the theoretical framework of OT. A Multi-Dimensional Model of Modern BrE Phonology (MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology for short) was constructed to analyze, study and explain pronunciations, syllabifications and word stresses in Modern BrE which could not be settled in the theoretical framework of OT alone.
Three questions will be answered in this research. First, which are the constraints of pronunciations, syllabifications and word stresses in Modern BrE words and how are they ranked? Second, is the theoretical framework of OT qualified in answering those questions? Third, is the MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology of assistant of OT in explaining those questions?
This thesis has five chapters.
In the first chapter, the introduction, the topic of this research, data-collection, organization and significance of the thesis would be given.
Literature review and approach of this research is in Chapter 2. By an investigation on the internet such as http://www.cnki.net, http://www.google.cn, http://www.sciencedirect.com, and the history of Chinese and Western linguistic research, it is known that pronunciations, syllabifications or word stresses of Modern BrE had been studied from different branches or schools of linguistics ( besides Optimality Theory) or from different disciplines. And, it seems that a synthesis study of phonology in Modern BrE by Optimality Theory (OT) is seldom seen at home and abroad. Meanwhile, OT is restrained in solving Modern BrE pronunciations in its own theoretical framework. Therefore, under the guidance of SUCCESSION, REFERENCE, SUSPICION, HYPOTHESIS, EXPLORATION and VERIFICATION, MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology is hypothesized as the approach of this thesis.
Chapter 3 is the OT analysis of Modern BrE words in ¡®A-/a-¡¯ ending in vowels phonologically. First, these words are described in syllabifications and word stresses. Then, syllabifications and word stresses will be analyzed in OT to find out the constraints and constraint hierarchies. And the pronunciations of these words could not be explained satisfactorilsy in the theoretical framework of OT. It is said in this research that it could be done with the assistant of MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology.
A Modern BrE word acacia is taken as the example to explain its pronunciation, as well as its syllabification and word stress in MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology. After that, how to operate the model is introduced. And, this is the content of Chapter 4.
The conclusion and prospect is in Chapter 5. The MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology which is aimed at phonology with the characteristics of cross-disciplinary, synthesis and entirety, broadens, deepens and strengthens OT in explaning phonology and makes a little contribution to OT. Phonological study of Modern BrE is a part of the study of Modern BrE. It is not only an essential composition of Indo-European phonological study and phonological study of human natural language, but also is a reference from which Chinese phonological study could draw. In a word, this research has an important significance theoretically and practically. Finally, it is hyphothesised that a Multi-Dimensional Model of Phonology (MD Model of Phonology for short) that might be applied to other languages based at the MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology.
There is no end to learning. The MD Model of Modern BrE Phonology still needs to be improved and developed in later study and research, and needs to be testified by more phonological facts.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1